Tuesday, December 6, 2022
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), in collaboration with the American Bar Foundation, recently released A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times (Portrait Project 2.0). Five years ago, I was very moved by the original Portrait Project report and worked with the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and Asian Pacific American Law Students Association in Colorado to bring the primary author, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, to Colorado during a snowstorm. This follow-up study is just as good and even more necessary.
The updated report (77 pages) combines detailed analysis of employment data in various legal sectors to gain insight into Asian American career advancement and political participation. It is based on interviews, focus groups, and a national survey completed by over 700 Asian American lawyers.
Some of the key findings:
- Asian American attorneys are more engaged with social and political issues than in 2016. Those seeking to change their legal practice areas ranked a desire to advance issues important to them among their most significant reasons for doing so. (This was previously ranked among the least significant reasons).
- Nearly half of Asian American attorneys (47% of survey respondents) became more involved in community organizations, protests, or other forms of advocacy specifically on behalf of Asian Americans since March 2020.
- Although there is underrepresentation of Asian American attorneys in the top ranks of the legal progression, there has been progress in the appointment of federal judges (from 3.4% to 6%) and as general counsel. While Asian Americans are the largest minority group at major law firms, they have the lowest ratio of partners to associates and remain underrepresented among law clerks, law professors, state court judges, and state and federal prosecutors.
Read the full report here.